Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jason goes to the closing night of Noir City

A week of insanity ends with a double feature showcasing the most insidious form of insanity ever--love.

First up, THE HUNTED (1948) starring the ice-skating noir queen Belita. Belita plays Ann Mead, a parolee after serving four years for her role in a diamond heist. She insists she's innocent, but that's no comfort to her lawyer Simon Rand (Pierre Watkin), whom she blames for cutting a deal to send her away. It's even less comfort to cop Johnny Saxon (Preston Foster), her former lover who arrested her. 4 years ago she threatened to kill them both. Maybe that was just an angry outburst, but she does show up in Saxon's apartment. For all the world she appears calm, simply protesting her innocence and wanting him to take her back. But maybe that's just the cold, calculating criminal she is. A fine story, and while Belita's not the greatest actress they do find a way to shoehorn in an ice skating scene for her (she becomes the main attraction at the local rink, doing her specialty act during intermission of the hockey matches).

And finally, Noir City ended with a bang with ANGEL FACE (1952). Behind the scenes, this film was made to torture British actress Jean Simmons after producer Howard Hughes brought her to the U.S. with designs to add her to his "harem." When she refused, he specifically hire Otto Preminger to direct with explicit instructions to be as cruel as possible to her. But on screen, she's the cruel one as angel faced Diane Tremayne. When her stepmother nearly dies of gas inhalation, Diane sets her eyes on ambulance driver/daffy chump Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum, possibly the coolest chump ever). She plays innocent beautifully, but manages to drive a wedge between him and his girl Mary (Mona Freeman). She even convinces him to become the family's chauffeur. Of course, you know it has to end badly, and this delivers the twisted ending in spades. An absolutely perfect way to say goodbye to Noir City.

Check that, I'm not saying "goodbye," I'm saying "see ya next year!"

Total Running Time: 179 minutes
My Total Minutes: 220,677
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